Nay-Jay! Review
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Players: 2-4 (ages 8+)
Playing Time: 20-30 minutes

When I was a freshman in college, the girls on my floor often took study breaks to play a frantic card game called Spit. At some point during the day, it was inevitable that someone would show up at our dorm room door with a deck of cards and challenge my roommate and me to a game or two. And though it’s been years since I last played Spit, all of those memories came flooding back when I started playing Nay-Jay!

Like Spit, Nay-Jay! is a fast and frenzied card game—one that you can play head-to-head or in a group (up to four with the standard game—or up to six with the expansion pack). To begin, each player gets a deck of numbered Nay-Jay! cards (which come in four different colors). Players then set up their playing area with a 20-card Down-Pile (which is placed face-down), plus one card, placed face-up, on top and four more face-up cards beside it.

Once the game begins, it’s a free-for-all. There’s no taking turns, no time to think. Players race to get rid of the cards in front of them by creating piles in the center of the playing space. Every pile begins with a 1—and players can build on piles by playing one number up or down of the same color (i.e., a red 7 or 5 can be played on a red 6).

Game play is lightning fast—and it’s definitely messy. Before long, everyone will be laughing and shrieking—and the cards will be flying—until someone gets rid of his or her Down-Pile and calls out “Nay-Jay!” The cards that have been played are then returned to each player (remember: they’re color-coded), and players add up the number of cards played and subtract two points for every card left in their Down-Pile. The player with the most points at the end of six rounds wins the game.

Nay-Jay! is one of those games that are easy to understand but tricky to master. The rules are simple enough for kids, but once you’re facing off against one or more opponents, it’s a whole lot harder to keep your cool and think through your moves. For that reason, you can pretty much forget about strategies—because you’ll have very little time to think through them (at least until you’re very comfortable with the game).

The more players you get, the wilder and crazier the game will be. It will most definitely get loud—and it might even get violent. It’s hectic and stressful—and if you like nice, quiet, organized games, this isn’t it. But if you got a good night’s sleep last night and you’re full of energy and ready for a fight, it’s a whole lot of wild and crazy fun.

My greatest complaint with the game is that the cards are just too slippery. They’re well-coated—which means that they’ll probably stand up to years of battles for card-playing control—but it also means that you’ll end up with a whole lot of slipping, sliding cards. It also means that it’s hard to pick your cards up off the table—so it might be easier to play on the floor (like we did in college), where you have the carpet for extra traction.

Whether you’re familiar with Spit or you’re looking for a wild new card-playing adventure, you’ll find plenty of fast-paced thrills while playing Nay-Jay! Before you dive in, though, you might want to load up on caffeine and file your fingernails to a point, to help prepare you for the battle to come.

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